January 19, 2008

Breakdown: Kansas comes to town

The Missouri Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks renew one of the nation's most heated rivalries on Saturday night at Mizzou Arena. Kansas comes in rolling, ranked third in the nation and undefeated. Missouri comes in reeling, off a 72-67 loss to Iowa State in Ames on Wednesday night. PowerMizzou.com breaks down the matchup.

Missouri Keys to the Game

First off, Missouri has to show up for the opening tip. The game at Ames was nearly over before it started. The Cyclones jumped out to a 13-2 lead and Missouri never even got within two points the rest of the way. Next, the Tigers have to use the crowd to their advantage and turn the home court edge into a difference maker. Mizzou is 10-and-0 at home, 1-and-5 anywhere else. The crowd will be a sellout and will be nuts as it is every year for this game. Missouri has to give them a reason to be excited. Finally, and maybe this should be first, the Tigers have to make shots. When they're hitting from outside (see Texas), Missouri can hang with the nation's best teams. When they're off (see Iowa State), they can lose to just about anyone.

Kansas Keys to the Game

This one is pretty simple: Keep doing what they've done all year. Kansas is the more talented team. That's not a slight to Missouri because the Jayhawks probably have more pure talent than anyone in college basketball. They have a huge size advantage down low with Jackson, Arthur and Kaun. Mizzou was carved up down low by Iowa State and the Cyclones' big men can't compare to Kansas in any way. If the Jayhawks can hit the offensive glass as many teams have been able to do against the Tigers, it's going to be a long, long night for Missouri fans.

The Wild Card

The X-factor in this one is Missouri's outside shooting as a whole and Matt Lawrence in particular. He had a great night against the Jayhawks in Lawrence last year and Mizzou was in the game until the final buzzer. If he's not hitting, Missouri has to find someone that can bury the outside shot consistently. The Tigers simply aren't good enough to match Kansas basket for basket. They've got to trade three for two on a lot of occasions to stay in this one. If Missouri is under 50% from behind the arc, it's going to be very difficult to keep this one close.

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